Level Up Your Library Grant Program

Level Up Your Library Grant Program
Level Up Your Library Grant Recap
[ February 2024 ]


Announcing the Recipient Institutions
May 10, 2023

We are thrilled to announce the recipient institutions that will be participating in LibraryLinkNJ's Level Up Your Library mini-grants program!

The Level Up Your Library mini-grant program asked applicant institutions to identify projects, programs, or areas of service that would benefit from improvement, expansion, or revitalization, and then share how they plan to "level up" that initiative utilizing up to $5,000 in grant funds. With over 100 applicants seeking more than $412,000 in total funds, this was an extremely competitive process. With only $100,000 of funds to disperse, our review committee carefully considered all applications and ultimately selected 24 public, K-12, and academic libraries from across 12 New Jersey counties to receive funding awards. Read on to find out who will be leveling up their libraries this year!

  • Atlantic Cape Community College; Textbook Access for All ($5,000) -The Atlantic Cape Library will expand their Texbooks on Reserve program to ensure that every textbook in use at the college will be available on-demand for student use, filling an important gap in student access by finally offering the most expensive course texts free of charge via the ACCC library. 
  • Atlantic City Free Public Library; The MAKE: AC Makerspace Revitalization Project ($5,000) - The Makerspace Revitalization Project will remodel the existing makerspace (originally built with a 2014 LibraryLinkNJ Makerspace Grant) and purchase new technology, STEM kits, and equipment that will allow for increased Makerspace outreach to the Atlantic City community and public schools.
  • Boonton Holmes Public Library; Revitalization of Machine Sewing Programs, Circulation, & Skill Sharing ($4,660) - Boonton Holmes Public Library will revitalize and expand its popular sewing programming to include use and circulation of sewing machines. Sewing programs will be available to the community, while high-quality machines will become available for patron use both inside the library and as circulation items.
  • Camden County Library System; Personal Care Pantries ($5,000) - The Library will level up their popular Personal Care Pantry project by stocking up their pantries with the community's most-needed personal care items. Patrons at multiple Camden County branches will gain access to essential personal care products in a no-questions-asked process that helps imbue the process of seeking support with dignity and respect. 
  • Cliffside Park Public Library; Adult ESL & Citizenship Program ($5,000) - Cliffside Park Public Library will improve and upgrade their successful ESL and citizenship classes to meet the needs and demands of their growing, increasingly-diverse community, including offering more robust study materials and increasing the number of classes and tutors available. 
  • Collingswood Public Library; STEAM Jr. Creation Station ($2,041) - Collingswood Public Library will expand their current STEAM program for older children to include a STEAM Jr. Creation Station for patrons 3-4, affording this naturally curious age group the opportunity to explore STEAM materials and concepts in a way that is accessible and age-appropriate.
  • Denville Public Library; Jump Into a Book! ($1,431) - Denville Public Library  will level up their highly popular collection of existing interactive reading material for children with a collection of IR books that combine virtual reality, augmented reality, and books for a truly engaging reading experience for young patrons.
  • Johnson Public Library; JPL Pop-Up Library ($5,000) - JPL will level up their outreach offerings and accessibility by establishing a weekly pop-up library in an accessible, high-traffic community location. This will make the library's materials and services available to the community in a way that is currently unavailable due to limited accessibility of the physical library building.
  • Kemmerer Library; It's a Great Summer @ Kemmerer Library ($2,500) - Kemmerer Library will level up their summer program offerings with the "It's a Great Summer" lecture series, which will entertain and educate attendees about "The Greats" in history, art, architecture, TV/film, and music. 
  • Kenilworth Free Public Library; Paper Pals ($5,000) - Kenilworth Free Public Library will expand its existing, highly popular adult crafting programming "Paper Pals." The demand for Paper Pals has outpaced the library's ability to purchase materials or provide new tutorials, and their Leveled Up version will include the purchase of more materials and the opportunity to schedule more events at more varied times, making the program available to more patrons. 
  • Livingston Public Library; Connecting the Community Through Preserving Local History ($3,485) - Livingston Public Library will organize and preserve its local history collection to make the collection more accessible in its physical format, through condensing and properly storing items and materials, as well as making it digitally accessible via digitization efforts. 
  • Margaret E Heggan Free Public Library; Connecting Communities: Providing for Neurodivergent Patrons ($5,000) - Margaret E Heggan Free Public Library will upgrade their services to neurodivergent community members by adding sensory friendly storytimes and programming to their calendar, as well as committing to staff training and adding neurodivergent-friendly furniture and materials to the library space.
  • Maywood Public Library; Leveling Up: Creating a More Inclusive Library ($2,961) - Maywood Public Library will offer a wider array of resources for patrons with autism spectrum condition, or who experience other sensory or communication challenges, and their caregivers. 
  • Mercer County Library System, West Windsor Branch; Empowering Young Minds with Technology: Enhancing STEAM & Digital Literacy Education Through Chromebooks ($5,000) -The library will level up their teen's and children's programming with the purchase of Chromebooks that will allow the youth services department to enhance their STEAM and Early Literacy programming with digital and technology components. 
  • Montville Township Public Library; Library of "New Things:" Creation, Recreation, Celebration! ($2,000) - Montville Public Library will further develop its existing Library of Things collection to offer a more diverse array of items, as requested by their patrons. 
  • Moore Library at Rider University; Expanding Into the Metaverse ($4,723) - Moore Library will expand available Virtual Reality apps to support programming, pedagogy, and curriculum, as well as become VR content creators by using 360-degree images and videos to create a VR gallery of Rider's Historic Typewriter Collection. 
  • North Warren Regional Media Center; MakerCloset for our MakerSpace ($4,723) - North Warren Regional High School Media Center will level up their library and their MakerSpace in anticipation of a multi-year library transformation. Their project will bring a DreamBox into the library, allowing for greater storge, accessibility, and even mobility so that existing and future makerspace items can travel throughout the school. 
  • Pascack Hills High School Media Center; Libros en Espanol: A Proposal to Promote Spanish Literacy ($3,000) - Pascack Hills High School Library will level up student access to quality literature and increase their commitment to educational inclusivity with the purchase of a collection of Spanish books to meet the needs of Spanish speaking students and the school community at large.
  • Plainsboro Public Library; Plainsboro Library of Things ($5,000) - Building upon their growing collection of non-traditional circulating items, Plainsboro Public Library seeks to keep pace with the times be creating a full-fledged circulating Library of Things.
  • Princeton Public Library; Library of Things: Little Thinker Kits ($5,000) - Princeton Public Library will level up their Library of Things collection to include "Little Thinker Kits" which will offer parents, caregivers, educators, and most importantly, Princeton's littlest patrons, the opportunity to borrow curated kits consisting of screen-free technology and a STEAM-based imaginative freeplay item.
  • Red Bank Public Library; But Wait, There's More! ($5,000) - Red Bank Public Library will upgrade their existing Library of Things to provide patrons with access to more recreational and hands-on items that better reflect the specific needs of the Red Bank community.
  • Sterling High School Media Center; Drab to Fab Lab! ($5,000) - Sterling High School will level up its existing makerspace to support patrons in the pursuit of creative endeavors in and out of the classroom. The project will add new STEAM offerings for staff and students and will improve the existing space with new, functional, and inviting furniture.
  • Union City Public Library; LEVEL UP: Union City Teen Space ($5,000) - The Library will update their Teen Space, creating a teen-designated space for the first time in the library's history. Design of the space and included features will be heavily influenced by input from local teens, providing increased ownership and enhancing teens' feeling of belonging in the library. 
  • Woodbridge Public Library; Enriching Minds, Building Audiences: Leveling Up Adult & Teen Programming ($3,572) - Woodbridge Public Library will expand and improve programming offerings to teen, tween, and adult patrons by increasing the number of programs offered and providing programs on new, community-focused topics. 




Across the state and at all types of institutions, New Jersey’s libraries are engaged in valuable projects every day that are ready to be grown, modernized, increased, or revamped. Maybe it’s a program that needs a fresh infusion of technology, a collaboration that could benefit from more creative publicity, or a lending initiative that has simply exceeded its capacity. If your library has been waiting for the opportunity to expand or improve this type of existing initiative, LibraryLinkNJ is pleased to bring you the chance with our Level Up Your Library mini-grants program!

This grant program will provide funds to aid libraries of all types as they take an existing project to new heights. From staple services to out-of-the-box initiatives, the Level Up Your Library mini-grants program will provide funds for a wide array of projects that are in need of improvement or expansion. With so much impressive, exciting, and vital work underway around the state, we can’t wait to see what our member libraries are hoping to take to the next level!

Application Materials:

Information Sessions:

Applicants with questions about the grant guidelines, eligibility, or application process may wish to join us for one of two optional Information Sessions. Click below to register for an Information Session and drop in any time during the hour to ask questions and discuss your concerns: 

  • Level Up Your Library Applicant Information Session 1; Wednesday, February 15, 3pm-4pm. Click Here to Register

  • Level Up Your Library Applicant Information Session 2; Monday, February 27, 11am-12pm. Click Here to Register 

Grant Overview

Goal: To provide member libraries with the opportunity to grow, expand, or improve upon the initiatives that are most exciting, intriguing, or crucial to their unique institutions or communities.


  • Foster a culture of growth and improvement among New Jersey’s multi-type libraries
  • Support member institutions that face financial or personnel limitations by providing an opportunity to grow an existing initiative, rather than requiring the creation of a new one
  • Place member institutions in a position to identify which projects or areas of service require the most attention in their own unique communities
  • Increase LibraryLinkNJ’s ability to have a direct impact on member institutions

Measure of Success: 

  • Libraries that receive grant funds are able to demonstrate that they have improved, expanded, or revised an existing initiative or program
  • Libraries that receive grant funds are able to demonstrate that they have promoted the funded project and documented its progress
  • Libraries that receive grant funds are able to provide evidence that those impacted by the project have an enriched or improved experience in that area
  • Funding reaches libraries of multiple types from a diverse range of New Jersey communities

Program Details
Introduction and Project Rationale:
As libraries of all types continue to grapple with the question of how to do more with less, community expectations about what libraries can and should provide continues to grow. While New Jersey’s libraries consistently impress their patrons and colleagues with innovative and outstanding services, we know that all too often, what could truly be something “great” ends up being “good enough” in the face of barriers or shortages. Whether it’s a successful project that’s outgrowing its existing form or a valuable initiative that needs revamping to fully realize its potential, every library has something they’d love to take to the next level. 

With that in mind, LibraryLinkNJ is proud to announce a 2023 mini-grant program designed to support New Jersey’s libraries in their quest to reach that next level. We invite member libraries to examine their current initiatives, identify one that could be expanded or improved, and make a plan to make it better. 

No fund matching is required. We’re offering a straight subsidy of between $1,000 and $5,000 to fund initiatives in member libraries of all types. 90% of a library’s total awarded funds will be dispersed at the start of the project period; the remaining 10% will be dispersed following receipt of a satisfactory final project report. 

Application materials will be available on this page beginning Wednesday, February 8, 2023.


  • No fund matching is required; this program provides a straight subsidy for member institutions. 
  • 90% of funds will be dispersed up-front, with the remaining 10% dispersed following receipt of a satisfactory final project report.
  • Requested fund amounts must be between $1,000 and $5,000.
  • Applications containing requests for funds less than $1,000 or more than $5,000 will be deemed ineligible.
  • Institutions seeking funding for projects expected to cost more than $5,000 may request a $5,000 contract award, but an indication of how additional funds will be secured is recommended for a successful application.
  • LibraryLinkNJ has committed up to $100,000 in funding for this initiative.


  • Project Launch: February 8, 2023
    • Application materials will be available on this page beginning February 8, 2023.
  • Application Deadline: March 31, 2023
  • Award Notification Date: April 24, 2023
  • Project Completion Deadline: December 1, 2023
  • Participant Project Reports Due: December 15, 2023

Eligibility, Application, and Award Process


  • LibraryLinkNJ member libraries and library-related agencies of all types that are in good standing* are eligible to apply for a grant.

*Not sure if your institution is a member in good standing? Reach out to our staff to check on the status of your membership.

Application Process:

  • Eligible LibraryLinkNJ member libraries should fill out and submit the application form via mail or email to the addresses indicated on the application. The submission deadline is March 31, 2023 at 4:00pm. An earlier submission date is allowed.
  • Applications will be reviewed for required elements. Incomplete applications will be deemed ineligible.
  • Applications accumulate until the start date for evaluation.
  • A Grant Evaluation Panel of LibraryLinkNJ staff and Executive Board members will evaluate all eligible applications.
  • Applicants agree to submit final fiscal and project reports to LibraryLinkNJ no later than December 15, 2023, should their project be funded.
  • Participating libraries must agree that LibraryLinkNJ can share their report data with the membership, the library community outside the state, and selected media venues.

Submission Process and Selection Criteria:

The criteria for receiving a grant include:

  • Submitting a completed application by the application due date.
  • Completion and submission of a grant Risk Assessment form, if a grant is offered.
  • Signing the grant agreement and returning it by the acceptance deadline, if so offered.
  • Attending a virtual Information Session for grant award winners.

Evaluation Process

  • The Grant Evaluation Panel will use a rubric which lists required elements and has point differentiations for the responses from applicants. 
  • Each of the following categories will be ranked in the range from 1 to 10, where the project application requirements are: not met (0), partially met (1-6), fully met (7) and exceeded (8-10).
    • Application Certification & Project Table Completion
    • Project Title & Description
    • Description of Project Personnel & Partners
    • Project Goals & Objectives
    • Statement of Need
    • Overview of Implementation Timeline
    • Detailed Project Budget
    • Description of Marketing Strategy and Publicity Plan
    • Description of Evaluation Plan
    • Description of Sustainability Plan
  • Review the Grant Guidelines document for further information

Frequently Asked Questions

Procedural FAQ

  • Can multiple organizations within a single administrative entity apply for their own grants? For example, can multiple schools within a district or multiple branches within a county library system apply? No. In an effort to support the greatest number of libraries, only one application per administrative entity will be accepted. 
  • Must applications be submitted by the end of the business day on March 31st? No. Paper applications which are mailed to our office must be post-marked by March 31st. Applications that are submitted via email must arrive by 11:59pm on Friday, March 31st.
  • What’s the best way to submit my application? We strongly encourage you to submit your application via email in PDF format, though Word and Google Documents will also be accepted. Applicants also have the option of submitting hard copies of their application to the LibraryLinkNJ offices in the mail.

Application/Narrative FAQ

  • Is there a limit to how long the narrative portion of my application can be? There is no limit to how long narratives can be. We encourage applicants to take the space they need to effectively communicate the why and how of their proposed project.
  • Can I attach additional/supporting documents to my application? Yes. Supporting documents, such as letters of support from partner organizations, statistics or survey results, relevant photos, and patron feedback are all welcome additions to your application.

Project FAQ

  • Can funds be used to implement a new initiative or begin a new service within my library? No. Level Up Your Library grants are reserved for the expansion or improvement of existing library programs, services, or initiatives. Applicants must be able to show that their proposed project builds upon an existing service.
  • Can funds be used retroactively to “pay the library back” for expenses incurred prior to the June 1 project period start date? No. Expenses incurred prior to the June 1 project period start date are not eligible for grant funding.
  • If an initiative begins during the project period but continues beyond the December 1 project period end date, can funds continue to be used beyond the close of the project period? No. All grant funds must be spent by the December 1 project period end date, and all funds must be accounted for in the Final Project Report which is due on December 15.